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Tougher nuisance laws bill killed

March 24, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

ANNAPOLIS - A House panel has killed a plan for tougher nuisance laws in Washington County.

The Washington County Delegation sought the legislation because a Hagerstown house smelled so bad that it upset neighbors.

The $50 fine was not enough to make that homeowner and others clean up such nuisances, said lawmakers and county Health Department officials.

The bill would have increased the penalty to up to $10 a day.

Until it was killed by the House Environmental Matters Committee on Tuesday, the bill's chances of passing looked good.

The Maryland General Assembly has an informal policy of extending courtesy to such local delegation bills.

There was no opposition to the bill at the committee's hearing last week.

But committee Chairman Ronald A. Guns said the Maryland Judicial Conference indicated there could be technical problems with the bill, which was introduced late.

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"We figured, hey look, this is something we can look at next year," said Guns, D-Eastern Shore.

The Washington County Delegation was at a disadvantage because none of its members sit on the committee, said Chairman Robert A. McKee, R-Washington.

The questions might have been addressed by a simple amendment, said McKee, who plans to fix the bill and bring it back next year.

"It would have been a step in progress," said Roderick A. MacRae, Washington County director of environmental health. "We are simply where we were before, which is not the worst thing in the world."

The nuisance bill was the first delegation bill to be killed this legislative session, which ends April 12.

Environmental Matters is the same committee that is considering a bill to exempt Washington County from the Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program.

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